For those of you who have been following the Band of Mamas blog, you know that I have been an exclusive pumper.
I am fortunate enough to have an oversupply of milk; as hard as it was to manage at times, I am thankful I had more than enough to go around. I donated (after Julia was born) to Tiny Treasures Milk Bank which pays you $1/oz of milk. They send you the bags, the materials, and a cooler to send the milk in! You pack it up and they arrange for a UPS pickup. It is a very cool opportunity to be able to donate to premature babies.
Every Mama does what works best for her, and this choice came so naturally to me that we followed the same route with Baby #2. Again, I had an oversupply. I was able to donate milk to a few friends in need who had babies around the same time as me. It made me so happy to be able to feed babies! What a blessing!
I’m 8 months in now and stocking my freezer as we speak because I am weaning off the pump. I wanted to share a few helpful tips that worked for me to help drop pumps and wean off entirely.
- Set a goal for an end date. Be kind to yourself when doing so. I decided that I wanted to be done before my brother’s wedding which is in the end of October (Brooks will be 10 months). This means that around 9 months I could stop pumping and should have almost enough to feed him until he’s 1. We have a deep freezer that will be full. If we run out too early I will use formula ☺️
- Stick to a schedule. I am schedule driven normally, but with pumping I try to pump at the same time everyday. This makes it very easy to adjust timing when you’re ready to drop a pump.
- At the beginning I would pump when baby eats. As soon as my kids started to show signs of sleeping longer at night, the first pump I dropped (both times) was my middle of the night pump. It is easier to drop this one because you are less likely to feel engorgement as you might during the day. At that time my pump schedule would look something like this: 6AM, 10 AM, 2 PM, 6PM, 9-10 PM. The first week or two you are going to experience some engorgement in the mornings; however, it pays off because your body will probably transfer that milk to the first pump.
- After that first drop, I waited a few more weeks and then began spacing out the time between each pump so I could drop another pump. Around 4 months my schedule looked something like this: 6 AM, 11 AM, 3 PM, 8 PM. I kept 4 full pumps until before I went back to work around month 7. Then I dropped my 11 AM pump. I slowly added an hour after my first morning pump and then moved up my afternoon pump an hour. I did this for about a week and then finally went to 6 AM, 3 PM, and 8 PM. Some Mamas are very strict about minutes pumping, I am not. Do whatever makes you comfortable.
- At this point, my body had started recognizing that baby no longer needed all that milk, and my supply has gradually decreased. I went back to work and decided to drop my afternoon pump. I’m so busy at work and when we get home and do dinner, bath, and play, I didn’t even notice any engorgement. Plus, now that I’m back at work, those few hours when we get home and catch up after the day away are so precious, I didn’t want to be constricted and tied to my pump!
- Now I’m pumping at 6 AM and 7 PM. The 7 PM often cuts into adult time, so it still gets dumped on occasion! [Pictured here is my Mama friend and me pumping in our friend’s van during a wedding reception 🙈]
- I usually fill the bottles for 2 days in the fridge (he gets frozen milk at daycare), and then for the next two days I put everything else into the freezer. I’m down to about 24 oz/day, so basically what I pump feeds him and then I put any extra into the freezer. I’ll keep this up for a few more weeks, and then I will drop that last pump and do the morning one for a week or two.
- Once you’re down to one pump, it’s ok to gradually pump less for a few days. You shouldn’t experience much engorgement (if any!) at that point. If so, use some massage and you can hand express to relieve a little of the milk. I still rub DoTerra Lavender Essential Oil on my breasts and take 1-2 Lecithin supplements as well. Lecithin is a natural fat emulsifier, and because I had an oversupply I take it to keep clogs at bay–especially when dropping pumps.
I hope you found this information helpful! If you have any questions about this topic, please don’t hesitate to comment here or reach out to Band of Mamas on Facebook or Instagram ❤️
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